What Do We Do When Paradise Is Lost? What If It’s Not Our Paradise?

They’re gone. They’re actually gone.

I walk over to the staircase and pull off what was left of the bike locks, who hours before held bikes securely to the structure in front of our apartment.

I just bought that bike too. No wonder Katie thought something was off this morning.

I walk back into the house and toss the clipped cables onto the floor, not really sure what to think or feel. I’m not too torn up about the bike itself, it was cheap, but it is sad that it is no longer mine. It is someone else’s, taken by force.

Honestly I have greater sadness over Katie’s loss than my own. She has had that bike for a long time, and she just said that she wanted to ride it more. That’s not to be, I guess.

I don’t understand the mentality that leads people to take from others, I think as I take a minute to sit down and process. It is so invasive, and wrong.

I sit on the couch, looking out the blinds at the breeze flowing through the trees, and now blowing a little bit more freely through the space where our bikes used to live.

I don’t ever want to be that sort of person. I don’t want to take from others what is not mine to claim. I don’t want to take joy, business, or money from others in ways that are dishonest or detrimental to them.

The knot in my chest grows as I drive to the library, hot air coming through my windows and bringing little relief. I call Aron, he doesn’t answer. I get a new library book, which an hour ago I was extremely happy about. But I can’t enjoy it now. I’m preoccupied with the lack of safety I feel.

Katie texts me back. At least she identifies with me and understands. I notice every bike as I drive to the coffee shop. They’re just two wheels and metal. I’ll be fine. But I don’t feel fine.

This is actually more about respect than anything else. 

To have someone enter into your life without your knowledge, come into your personal space while you sleep, and take the things that make up your world, that’s unnerving. And it’s not the first time it’s happened to me.

I remember the last few days I spent in my college town. I was nervous about leaving, and felt the pressure to succeed. I was having trouble sleeping my last night in town, the day before my graduation, and was disturbed by the sound of someone opening the door to my bedroom, then quickly closing it. I woke up the next morning to take inventory of what they took.

I feel all of that mess all over again.

The music blares and the women next to me carry their conversations over the top of it, speaking at a caffeinated pace and pausing only momentarily to suck down more of their iced lattes.

Life will move on. This wound of invasion will heal. But how do I deal with it when it happens again? Because it will.

I process. I remain present with my emotions and give them the space they need to have in order to wrestle with them and come to terms with the events that caused them. I don’t shove them into the depths of my being, because ignoring them won’t make them go away.

What about evil in the world? Well, it’s there. And it’s bigger than my ability to eradicate it all. It breaks our hearts. Well, at least when it’s on a large enough scale or it happens to us personally.

What about the people in the apartment across from you who had this happen to them 2 weeks ago? How’d you feel then?

To be honest, I was sorry for them, but I moved on relatively quickly. And, if I continue in this honesty, I lack true compassion when the world is cruel to others, but expect sympathy and comfort from the people around me when I am personally afflicted. Seems a little off to me.

Well, I can’t buy my neighbors a new bike, I’m a grad student.

But I can be present with them and their processing.

So how do you deal with evil? And I think deal is the right word, because we can’t fix or avoid it. But I’d say remain present with your emotions and with the people around you when they are wronged or wounded. That’s all I have right now, and I’m not sure that there is much more to it.

Maybe I’ll invite the neighbors over for dinner. We’ll have a beer in honor of our stolen comrades.

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